In the coming months, the U.S. Postal Service will be conducting studies of 3,700 post offices nationwide in an effort to downsize — or “right-size,” as this news release says — its retail operations. Of those, 13 are located in Northeast Missouri. Read the story here.
It’s not clear whether that downsizing will occur through office closings or through a transition to more “Village Post Offices,” which would feature scaled-down operations and would be run by third parties as part of businesses like grocery stores.
What’s clear, however, is that big changes could be in store for 13 towns that are dots on the map, that would perhaps be gone from the map but for their post offices.
I compared the list of targeted post offices in Northeast Missouri to 2010 census data. The data confirmed what the maps tend to show: that these towns are very, very small. They include:
• Holliday (Monroe County), pop. 137
• Hunnewell (Marion County), pop. 184
• Leonard (Shelby County), pop. 61
• Newark (Knox County), pop. 94
• Novelty (Knox County), pop. 139
• Plevna (Knox County), pop. 21
• Revere (Clark County), pop. 79
• Rutledge (Knox County), pop. 109
• Stoutsville (Monroe County), pop. 36
Not included on that list are Emden (Shelby County), St. Patrick (Clark County), Saverton (Ralls County) and Williamstown (Lewis County). Their populations weren’t counted as separate municipalities in the 2010 census.
Also not included are anecdotes about what the post office means to each of those towns. St. Patrick’s post office sets it apart as officially the only municipality in the world named St. Patrick; it issues thousands of commemorative cancellations each March as mementos of its Irish heritage. Revere’s post office shares space with the village hall and firehouse.
The full list of post offices being studied for “expanded access” includes stops in many small towns, but it also includes some urban post offices; in Missouri, those include five in St. Louis and three in Kansas City. In large metro areas, where some grocery stores and pharmacies already sell stamps, the Village Post Office concept — which envisions not only stamp sales, but also shipping supplies and even post office boxes — would appear to make sense as a solution.
But we deal on a much smaller scale in Northeast Missouri. In these small towns, where scant few businesses exist to begin with, it appears unlikely that the post office would fold into another business. That could leave these residents hanging and these towns one step closer to vanishing from the map altogether.